(Originally posted 9/3/12)
From Kirstin Plante at TPRS Nederland
When talking about a conference one tends to speak only of the content of the workshops, the logistics and the presenters. I will talk about all of these, of course, but at NTPRS I was also impressed by the participants. I loved their hunger for information, their commitment and the enthusiastic performance of the tasks that were given in the workshops. Their open attitude towards other participants and the spontaneous group activities at lunch time and in the evening gave me a warm feeling. I think the presenters set an example by being open to anyone who wanted to have a chat with them.
But the most impressive to me was that so many teachers would have themselves coached in the coaching sessions. There was a special room with a number of coaches ready at all times to help you improve your skills. Now it is one thing to sit in a workshop listening to the presenter and performing a task or two, and it a completely different thing to stand in front of the critical eye of a group of peers trying out your newly acquired skills and …be coached! This is, believe me, one of the scariest things in a teacher’s life. And still the whole week the coaching room has been full of people who dared to take this step.
I myself have been coached several times, and I have observed different coaching groups. It was literally amazing to see how in just half an hour of teaching with a coach people develop their skills so strongly. I have seen people who fell silent after every sentence in the beginning and ended up asking one question after another without any visible effort. Teachers who would start like a salt pillar and change into an expressive communicator, and teachers who didn’t dare look anyone in the eyes and who, after only twenty minutes, already approached students directly and friendly. The encouragement and the friendly and concrete help of the coaches brought these teachers not just one but several steps further.
I felt touched by the encouraging attitude of the ‘students’, the courage of the teachers and their growing self confidence.Because of what I witnessed in these sessions, I am very happy to have participated in the workshop for coaches (by Teri Wiechart and Lisette Liebold) the day before the start of the conference, because I feel that coaches are an invaluable help for teachers who are working with TPRS – not only those who are just starting, but also the more experienced ones. I think more of us should learn how to stimulate and help our colleagues in our schools or in regional groups, and the workshop for coaches teaches us some helpful ways of doing this. I will certainly be there next year!
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